Anti-Zionism Week at UC Irvine

The Louis D. Brandeis Center joins the AMCHA Initiative and twenty other groups in writing a letter to UCI Chancellor and Vice Chancellor about the “Anti-Zionist Week 2015” at UC Irvine.

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May 1, 2015

UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman
UCI Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas Parham

Dear Chancellor Gillman and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Parham:

The 22 organizations below are extremely concerned that two UCI registered student organizations—the Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine—have announced that on May 4-7, 2015, they will be hosting “Anti-Zionism Week 2015.”

This means a week of events, speakers, discussions, displays and possibly street theater that are meant to create animosity towards Israel and anyone who supports it.

Please be aware that many UCI students, faculty, and community members self-identify as Zionists.  An “Anti-Zionism Week” will be offensive, divisive, and hurtful to them, and could create a hostile campus environment.

If past years of anti-Zionism weeks offer any guidance, these events, individually and/or collectively, will in great likelihood include statements and create an atmosphere that is not only anti-Zionist but also anti-Semitic under the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. In particular, the State Department’s definition notes the ways that anti-Semitism manifests itself in regard to speech about the State of Israel:

  • Demonizing Israel: using symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis; comparing Israeli policies to that of the Nazis; blaming Israel for all political tensions.
  • Double Standards toward Israel: requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; focusing only on Israel for peace or human rights investigations.
  • Delegitimizing Israel: denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland; denying Israel the right to exist.

Recently, the student senates of UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara responded to the escalation of anti-Semitic activity on UC campuses by unanimously passing resolutions condemning anti-Semitism, citing this above definition. These resolutions resolved to use the State Department’s definition to help identify anti-Semitic activity.  In 2014, the student government at UC Irvine passed a resolution affirming its “strong opposition” to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism and discrimination. Link to that resolution: HERE.

LDB and Decalogue Join Forces to Train Illinois Law Students

This article about LDB’s National Law Student Leadership Conference was published in the Spring 2015 Edition of the “Decalogue Tablet,” a publication of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. The Decalogue Society is a Chicago-based organization founded in 1934 to promote justice in society and to advance and improve the law, administration of justice and legal…

Kantor Center Reports on Surging Global Anti-Semitism

kantor-center-logoThe 2014 Kantor Center annual report highlights a 38% worldwide increase in violent anti-Semitic incidents compared to 2013. The Kantor Center, based at Tel Aviv University, specializes in contemporary European Jewry and publishes an annual detailed report on anti-Semitism worldwide.

According to this data, 2014 is the second worst year for anti-Semitism in the last decade, with an increase of 554 reported violent anti-Semitic acts in 2013, to 766 in 2014.

Contrary to many anti-Semitism reports taking into account all forms of anti-Semitism, this report focuses solely on the violent acts, making the numbers even more frightening. Violent anti-Semitic incidents are characterized as, “with or without weapons and by arson, vandalism or direct threats against Jewish persons or institutions such as synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and monuments as well as private property.” 

The below graph shows the worldwide evolution of violent anti-Semitic incidents since 1989. It shows a clear continuous upsurge of violence against Jews throughout the years, an increase of 882% in 25 years.

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Between 2013 and 2014 alone, there was an increase of 38%. Arson against Jews tripled, there was a 66% increase in Jews targeted in attacks (306 people in 2014), a 70% increase in synagogue attacks (114 attacks); and a 100% increase against Jewish property and institutions with weapons.

Worldwide, France has the highest number of violent anti-Semitic attacks for the third consecutive year, with 164 violent anti-Semitic attacks in 2014 as compared to 141 in 2013. The United Kingdom comes in second, with 141 violent anti-Semitic attacks in 2014 as compared to 95 in 2013, and the United States in third, with 80 violent anti-Semitics attacks in 2014 as compared to 55 in 2013.

Violent anti-Semitic attacks increased, and often more than doubled, in many countries throughout the world: Australia (30 vs. 11), Germany (76 vs. 36), Austria (9 vs. 4), Italy (23 vs. 12), Sweden (17 vs. 3), Belgium (30 vs. 11) and South Africa (14 vs. 1).

After condemning anti-Semitism, UCSB Student Senate rejects BDS resolution

On April 15th, the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) Student Senate rejected a BDS resolution by a short majority, with 13 no, 12 yes and one abstention. The resolution was calling UCSB to divest from Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar, and Hewlett Packard. This resolution comes just two weeks after the groundbreaking…

Anti-Semitism at Northwestern University

President Morton Schapiro
Northwestern University
633 Clark Street
Evanston, IL  60208-1100
 
Dear President Schapiro,
 
We are 23 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people who are very concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students at Northwestern University. 
 
We are troubled by reports of two separate incidents of antisemitic graffiti discovered last week on your campus.  On Saturday April 11, a swastika was drawn on a wall of the men’s bathroom in the NU library, and on Wednesday April 15, a large swastika was found on the wall of a study lounge in the library.
 
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We are aware that on Tuesday April 14 you sent an email to the campus community stating that the April 11 incident was “offensive to the entire Northwestern community and will not be tolerated.”  While we are pleased that you issued a statement, we are concerned that your message neglected to publicly acknowledge that a swastika is an antisemitic symbol associated with genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people, and that although it affects the entire campus community, it  particularly targets NU’s Jewish members for hatred and discrimination.
 
Campus antisemitism is a serious and growing problem.  A recent study published by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law reveals that 54% of Jewish American college and university students report experiencing or witnessing antisemitism on campus in the recent school year.  The research reveals that this is a much more widespread problem than most realized.  
 

3 New LDB Chapters Open in the Windy City

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law’s (LDB) Law Student Chapter Initiative, started last year, continues to expand! Last week, LDB opened three new law student chapters in Chicago – at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“The recent rise in anti-Semitism on university campuses is undeniable and deeply disturbing,” says Josh Hammer, a second-year student at the University of Chicago and one of the new chapter’s founding members. “Vigorously combatting this pernicious trend is one of our generation’s great new challenges. It is my hope that our Louis D. Brandeis Center chapter at the University of Chicago Law School will help train our future lawyers in how to do precisely that.”

Fostering a new generation of leaders who share LDB’s mission, LDB chapters fill an important gap in American legal education, offer legal and educational opportunities that members seek, and provide a resource to other members of the university community. In turn, the chapters support LDB’s work to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on college and university campuses. Brandeis Center law students assist Brandeis Center attorneys in monitoring colleges and universities around the United States to ensure compliance with federal and state civil rights laws that protect Jewish students from discrimination, harassment, and hostile environments. Since LDB is an equal opportunity organization, we welcome students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, gender or disability.

Corey Celt, a first-year law student who will be clerking with the Brandeis Center in Washington, D.C. this summer, started the new chapter at DePaul after attending the LDB National Law Student Conference this past December. Celt expressed his excitement about starting the new chapter: “I truly believe that many people are not aware of the Anti-Semitism that takes place on college campuses; if they are, they may also not be aware that there are legal remedies and legal organizations here to help. Given that DePaul University is very active in public interest law and pro bono community service, I know we have a student body that embraces the missions of the Brandeis Center and believes that ‘Human Rights for the Jewish People and justice for all’ are causes worth working for.”

Chicago-Kent LDB Chapter President Paul Geske, also an LDB National Conference participant and founding member, says, “[t]he new chapter will help us empower our fellow law students by providing them with information and the tools to engage in Jewish, civil rights advocacy. The chapter will also be a springboard for connecting students with attorneys locally, and nationwide.” At Chicago-Kent, where students are particularly interested in legal practice, students were treated to a special presentation by Supreme Court litigator Alyza Lewin, who spoke about her experience litigating the “Jerusalem Passport” case. Alyza was introduced by Constitutional Law Professor Mark D. Rosen, who put the case into the context of Con Law, making it increasingly relevant for students.

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “We are thrilled to recognize three new Chicago law school chapters this week. These are smart, passionate, dedicated students who share our mission to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. I admire their commitment and look forward to supporting their efforts.”

The three new LDB Chicago chapters will join the chapter started in February at Loyola University-Chicago. We thank Chicago’s Decalogue Society of Lawyers for connecting us to such wonderful and passionate Chicago-area students, and hope that our two groups can continue to work together.

If you are interested in helping to organize an LDB law student chapter at your school, please contact me at avogelst@brandeiscenter.com.
The Brandeis Center is an independent, non-profit civil rights organization that combats campus anti-Semitism. For more information on Brandeis Center activity, visit our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, read our Blog, and sign-up for our monthly publication, the Brandeis Brief!

BDS in Paris

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement is not only growing on American college campuses, but also at European universities. This is unsurprising, as anti-Semitism has been skyrocketing in Europe in recent years, and where there is anti-Semitism, BDS supporters often emerge. I am a Jewish French student, currently studying abroad in the U.S. for the year. At my university in Paris, Sciences Po Paris, a top political science school, BDS France supporters almost succeeded in calling off a conference at the beginning of the month, titled, “To be a Woman in Israel.”
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The conference, scheduled for April 1, was organized by, “Paris Tel-Aviv,” a multi-denominational French-Israeli student association, with a mission of discovering Israeli culture and History. The conference was supposed to feature four women covering four inter-related aspects of women’s lives in Israel: the everyday life, the mandatory military service, the labor market, and Judaism; show an Israeli-French film: Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem (2014); and hold a discussion on women’s place in the Israeli society. The conference was apolitical and had nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BDS France denounced the conference, claiming that the representatives of the “Israel Apartheid State” were invited to the conference “under the guise of . . .  women’s rights,” but that all events organized by Paris Tel-Aviv are aimed “to normalize the criminal policy of the State of Israel.” If the conference was not to be cancelled, BDS called for demonstrations in front of the school. The conference, scheduled at the same time as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was speaking at the school, was first adjourned and then cancelled by university administrators nervous about security issues.

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This is part of the BDS strategy, to demonize Israel and everything that is relative to it. On their French website, BDS implies that the speakers are responsible for the “killings of Palestinian civilians” and actively participate in the “colonization.”

Fortunately, following this whole debacle, Noemie Ifrah, Sciences Po Paris student and President of Paris Tel-Aviv succeeded in reinstating the conference, and obtained high security for the event. “The definitive cancelation of the conference would have been a decisive victory for BDS and a great defeat for the freedom of expression,” explained Noemie; a freedom of expression that is threatened in Paris since the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel

Recently, two House members have introduced legislation to prevent companies associated with the BDS movement from gaining U.S. government contracts. The “Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel Act” is headed by Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) and Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) to “thwart efforts by Palestinian organizations to pressure different corporations, companies, and educational institutions to boycott, divest, and…